Attitude Engineering – Is a Boss supposed to Boss around?

It is a common understanding in most of the old mindset companies who still feel that they are doing a great favor to their employees by giving them jobs. Few may be remembering the old times of three
decades and beyond when jobs were few and Government generated the majority of the jobs. Private sector was extremely unorganized and the families run businesses were busier hiding their taxable income and cheating whosoever they can for their own benefits than taking care of their employees.

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A large majority of employees remained on the verge of poverty that gave rise to strong unions who always treated management as their villains whose only interest was to exploit the poor workers. A lot of water has since passed below the bridge and things have changed immensely for the benefit of those who generate wealth for enterprises.
Organizations do everything to take care of their employees and trust and transparency is becoming an essential feature of a successful organization. With all these change going around, a lot of people are still rooted in past ideologies. To them, becoming a manager and boss is all about bossing around with a notion that they are the decision maker of the future of everyone they boss around with. For them, becoming a role model is a big joke. All they try to do is to keep control of their staff to the level that they convert them into a bunch of dumb dead pile of people whose job gets restricted to pleasing their boss.
Needless to say that they never or rarely grow and keep loosing their
kingdom as people find opportunities to leave them as soon as they can. For those who still continue with them, they are not the one who will anyway fit elsewhere.

In one of the companies I worked, many years back, the culture of the boss being all powerful was ingrained in the genes of the company. However, the owner of the company was a kind man and due to his years of experience in running the company, he had realized that he would have to delegate the work to professionals. I was one of such
professional who managed the technology for the company. It was unfortunate that due to a sudden massive stroke, the old man passed away. The rein of the company was handed over to his daughter who had little experience in managing people. Very soon we could see the changes in the company culture.

One morning, a new security guard took over the main gate. On seeing a new car and a lady who the poor man had never seen, asked the car to stop. The new Chairman was infuriated at this conduct. She
could not fathom that being the owner of the company she is asked to stop at the gate. The only reaction she could give was a tight slap on the face of the poor security guard and stormed in.

Half and hour high pitch shouting and cursing to the Chief of administration followed this incident. The chief, nearing his retirement could not take the insult any more and resigned the same evening. Instead of apologizing, she brought in someone else she knew well to manage the function. Needless to say, the man was incompetent and always found faults with others for all his own mistakes.

My own turn was coming soon. My wife was undergoing major health issues and had to be hospitalized. Having no one else at home, I had to take two days off from my already accumulated vacation. When
I reached office, I was directly summoned to her cabin. I was accused of telling lies, doing a bad job and planning to sabotage the peace of the company because the internet lines were down that day (She thought I was a terrorist).  I could also see someone else trying to gain access to my work. I realized that I would be a fool to stay on. Few more days and I got a good job. The worst part of the new Chairperson was that she did not know anything but felt that she knew more than the best. She always felt that all employees in the company were her personal servant and they should work to make her happy. Unfortunately her happiness did not come by working well, but by being her sycophant.

Before I moved out, I met her and told her candidly that she could do a better job by just trusting those who have been running the show and giving them a fair chance to show their work. In return, she just gave me a one-line reply ‘I don’t need your sermon’.

Many years later, I came to know that the shareholders of the company ousted her after the company filed for bankruptcy. Hundreds of workers lost their jobs and the officers who were brought by her to run the company siphoned off large amount of money from the company.

A bad boss, who fails to be a role model does not only destroy the careers of his own people but also ruins the company employing them. If you happen to be one such boss, please have a relook at what you should be doing. There is no age to learn and unlearn. If you fail to do that, very soon you may be hunting for a job that would now become more difficult to get.

Alok Kumar

Alok Kumar is Managing Partner of SRKay Consulting group, a private equity company, nurturing innovative ventures. Alok also serves on the board of ICCL (Indian Clearing Corporation Limited - A subsidiary of BSE- Bombay Stock Exchange) as an external advisor for technology and information security. Prior to this, Alok had been Managing Director of Sears IT & Management Services India Private Limited (SHI) since its inception in December 2009 and served in the same position till very recently. Having been in senior IT management positions in Fortune 500 companies, Alok has won several national and international awards. Alok is instrumental in planning and setting up SHI and thereafter growing it to a multi-locational thousand-plus people organization. Over the last five years, with his strategic vision, Alok helped SHI grow roots in India, develop and support technology applications and infrastructure across core mainframe, cutting edge e-Commerce and big data technologies. With his unique people-oriented transformational leadership style, Alok turned SHI into one of the most valued investments of Sears, garnering great ROIs, and creating value much beyond cost arbitrage. Under his tutelage, SHI has filed two patents and is recognized widely for its best practices in various areas, the latter, currently featured in Indian Institute of Management (IIM) case studies. SHI also became a CMMI Level 3, PCMM Level 3, and ISO 20000 certified organization. Alok is a widely acclaimed corporate leader in India today. He regularly participates and leads various forums as a keynote speaker and is an author of several books in different genres. Alok has several awards to his credit. He is particularly known in the industry for his people management skills and innovative ideas in improving the productivity of employees through unique people practices. He has been credited with the following industry awards: ¬ Emerging Leader of the Year award 2013 by IndiasGreatest.com ¬ Game Changer CEO of the Year 2013 (SHRM) ¬ CIO 100 - The Bold CIOs - 2008 (Reliance Infosolutions) ¬ CIO - Ones to Watch Award 2008 (Reliance Industries) ¬ Extended Manager Award - CIOL 2004 (Tata Teleservices) As an able leader of SHI, Alok got SHI recognized widely in the industry with the following several awards: ¬ CII Award for HR Best Practices in 2014 ¬ Global Excellence in Outsourcing Award - AIOP (Phoenix 2013) ¬ IT Innovation Award (Design & Engineering) - Computer Society of India 2012 ¬ Golden Company of the Year - Economic Times 2011-12 ¬ 7th Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Mumbai, India) 2013: • ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ Award • ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with business • HR Leadership Award • Talent Management Award by Bloomberg TV India ¬ Employer Branding Awards - World HRD Congress (Singapore, Asia) 2013: • 7th rank in ‘Asia’s Best Employer’ award • Award for ‘Best HR Strategy’ in line with the business • HR Leadership Award Other recognitions: Alok had served on the distinguished panel of NASSCOM's GIC (Global In-house Centers) National Council members. The council members play a key role in major initiatives of the industry and include the torch bearers of IT industry as panel members. Books and Papers: Alok is an established author, with three books to his credit. Alok’s third and latest book, a novel, “The Spy from Unaula” is a 2015 publication. A handwriting analysis enthusiast, Alok collaborated with his wife Nandani on the book, “Handwriting Speaks” in 2006. “Value Sourcing – Future of IT Outsourcing” was co-authored with Keith Sherwell (currently CIO, Altice USA) and was released in 2013. Alok also researched and published two whitepapers: a. “Creating next generation captives” talks about the best practices that are helping generate higher value from the IT company captives.

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1 Response

  1. Sreesha Rao says:

    Dear Alok,

    I think your Company/Boss matrix is a great way to understand where one’s career will go if confronted by such combinations which all of us do at some point or other in our careers. One has to be really lucky to get into a good company and have a good boss. Most of the times it’s one or the other. In fact companies are good or bad depending on the boss. A bad company can be perceived as a good company if one’s boss is the type who empathises with you, knows your strengths and weaknesses, gives you scope to maximise your strengths and mentors you to overcome your weaknesses. Unfortunately in my experience this is seldom the case. If the top guy in a company is the wrong type then typically he/she sets the tone for the rest of the bosses in the company to follow. In such a situation mediocrity and sycophancy will rule the roost with politicking and back stabbing being the order of the day and ‘smart’ employees will speak exactly what the boss wants to hear and not what is in the best interest of the organization. That will be the beginning of the end of the company. These simple truths that emphasize the human values that organizations and bosses should imbibe need to be taught in MBA schools as core subjects.

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